La Plata County will have one girl represented at the first-ever Colorado High School Activities Association girls wrestling state championship.
Durango’s Samantha Vasquez placed first at the CHSAA Girls Region 2 tournament to earn one of the eight spots at Thursday’s 161-pound tournament in Pueblo.
“She came in seeded first because of her prior performances, and she did a really nice job all tournament,” DHS girls wrestling coach Kyle Hanson said of Vasquez’s regional performance. “She pinned all of her opponents on the way through the finals and wrestled with a ton of thoughtfulness and poise. For this late in the season and after dropping a weight class, she was very light on her feet, and there was a flow with the way she moved and wrestled.”
Now undefeated at 11-0, Vasquez earned a bye in the first round. In the quarterfinals, she pinned Vista Ridge’s Paige Faler 27 seconds into the second period. She then earned another second-period pin win against Amaya Green of Eaglecrest in the semifinals to reach the championship.
In the first-place match, Vasquez would make it yet another second-period pin victory, this time against Emma Burk of Douglas County, as she handed Burk her first loss of the season in 12 matches.
“She got caught in a cradle in the first period in the finals match. But she didn’t panic,” Hanson said. “She worked the hands apart and got into the second period and showed her great hips to scramble and come out on top. She didn’t let (Burk) off her back and stuck her.”
Vasquez now will seek a state title Thursday in Pueblo. Though this is CHSAA’s first official girls wrestling state tournament, Vasquez has been to other state tournaments before. As a freshman, she placed fifth at state. A year ago as a junior, she placed second. Now, the Demon is looking to climb the top step of the podium as the No. 1 seed in the bracket. But another undefeated wrestler, Jenna Joseph (18-0) of Mead stands on the other side of the bracket.
“If you’ve been to the show before, you show up ready to wrestle,” Hanson said. “The way that environment affects a wrestler is greatly diminished. Samantha is very mature, level headed and worries much more about the matches she needs to wrestle and less about the setting.”
Ignacio’s Faye Hackett (8-4) was the only other girls wrestler from La Plata County to place at regionals. She took fifth at 127 pounds.
Hackett pinned Cheyenne Morgan of Manitou Springs with only eight seconds left in the third period of her first-round match.
In the quarterfinals, Hackett was pinned in 1:50 by Chatfield’s undefeated Savannah Cosme (17-0). But Hackett came back strong in the first consolation round, and she pinned Calhan’s Natalie Hlatki 53 seconds into the match.
In the consolation semifinals, Dakota Livermore of Vista Ridge would come out on top against Hackett with a pin 1:28 into the second period.
Hackett wrestled one final time in the fifth-place match and earned a 37-second pin against Woodland Park’s Trinity Diamond.
Hanson credited Vasquez for her work to help the entire girls team from La Plata County this season. Now, everyone is all in to help prepare her for state.
“We’ve been really lucky to have her as a leader and as another set of eyes with the team,” Hanson said. “She’s really interested in coaching and helping the girls improve. That has a lot to do with the success she is seeing for herself, too. She has the heart to teach and understands the sport from a coach’s perspective. That helps her as a wrestler and has made her invaluable to our program.”